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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Triton Downtown

By Karla DeVries, ’06 and Raymond Hardie

 
     
LAUNCHING DOWNTOWN: Former Visual Arts professor Barbara Kruger’s 40-by-80 foot mural “Another”, commissioned by the Stuart Collection, dominates Price Center East’s four-story atrium.


Welcome to downtown UCSD. Yes, you did read that correctly —after years of dull nights and even duller weekends, the campus now has a vital, thriving center. Remember when you had no car and pined for a midnight meal to break the tyranny of study? For a new generation of Tritons that is now part of a foodless past. With six new restaurants promising to stay open to 2 a.m., and The Loft, a restaurant/performance space, wafting poetry and music into the wee hours of the morning, downtown UCSD will become a destination—not just for classes.

Alongside a relocated Burger King, students will be tempted by Tapioca Express, an Asian teashop, as well as the Santorini Island Grill, a Greek-themed taverna, and lured by the aroma of curry drifting out from Bombay Coast. And all of this is housed inside the four-story-high atrium that provides additional seating for about 350.

The Loft, with its wine and tapas bar, will launch its fall program with an international film festival on September 28 and continue with an eclectic menu, ranging from the Calder String Quartet and cellist Maya Beiser (Chamber Music with a Twist ) to Sunday Taste Talks—International wine tastings paired with discussions on upcoming performances—all the while interspersed with student performance evenings of music, poetry and dance. Able to accommodate audiences of 150 to 175, The Loft will be open until two or three in the morning.

Price Center East provides new options for both studying and relaxation. There are six indoor lounges as well as a computer lab and seven 24-hour group-study rooms. The building houses more than 18 student organization offices, the Cross Cultural Center, an art gallery, a grocery store, a hair salon and an expanded post office. At 175,000 square feet it is the same size as the old Price Center, but it was constructed with a commitment to sustainability and uses half the energy and emits half as much carbon dioxide as the older building.

And most important for alumni, we’re there. Banners draped from the multi level banisters invite students and alumni to “Connect on Another level”—that other level being the Alumni Association’s brand new offices on the third floor. In the words of May West (or should that be “east”?)—come up and see us sometime.

After all, as alumni, it’s your downtown too.

MAGIC IN THE AIR

During the Alumni Association’s 30th Annual Awards for Excellence, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox (left) enjoys a moment with student members of The Tritones.

It was one of those magical moments. Eleven o ’clock on a warm, eucalyptus-scented evening and the center of the campus was alive. Over 450 alumni and guests wandered through the newly opened Price Center East, peered up in disbelief at the four-story-high atrium, and entered ArtPower’s innovative wine and tapas bar, The Loft, as indie music blared and experimental student movies flickered on the mini stage. The Alumni Association was celebrating its 30th Annual Awards for Excellence.

Alumni Association board member Pam Palisoul, ’72, talks with another guest as Khaled Hosseini, M.D. ’93, who was awarded “Outstanding Alumnus of the Year,” looks on.

It had opened with a reception in the svelte, checker-board-paneled ballroom, as alumni sipped cocktails, mingled and chatted, or just “grooved” on the live jazz. Then came dinner, and the ceremony honoring a group of renowned graduates, including Khaled Hosseini, M.D. ’93, author of the best-selling novel The Kite Runner, biophysicist Gunars Valkirs, Revelle ’74, Ph.D.’82, who invented the process that would lead to home pregnancy testing, and Anthony Jackson ’74, a physician, who has worked tirelessly as an undergraduate mentor. David Jordan, a former provost of Warren College, received the Distinguished Teaching Award and students Sapna Iyer, ’08, and Jeffrey Mounzer, ’08, received the Outstanding Senior Award.

“There was a palpable sense of excitement about the University,” says Sheldon Engelhorn, Revelle ’72, president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors, referring to the buzz of energy and pride that enveloped the whole evening, from the jazz and canapés all the way through to the post-awards party in The Loft.

The awards ceremony was the inaugural event in the new center and the Alumni Association raised more than $50,000 to benefit its endowed scholarship programs, bringing the total raised to $3 million. It also reflected the Alumni Association’s efforts over the past few years to engage alumni, bring them back to campus and reintroduce them to the pride of being a Triton.

Ernie Mort (left), former dean of Student Affairs at Revelle College, talks with Olin Griffin and his wife Jade, ’03 (center) and Matthew Herbst (right), director of the Making Modern World at Eleanor Roosevelt College.

Armin Afsahi, Revelle ’90, the assistant vice chancellor for Alumni Affairs, has one memory of that night that he says will stay with him forever. Entering The Loft at the end of the evening, he passed an Alumni Regent, a former president of the Alumni Association’s board, two students and a new graduate huddled over Chuao Chocolates as they sipped wine and discussed the evening. “It felt like a new beginning,” he said. “As if we were opening a new chapter in the University’s story.”

In a word, magical.

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